Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday's spotlight - "H(igh) D(efinition) R(?)

By guest blogger Pete

I seem to spend quite a bit of my summers taking photographs and even more of my winters developing and improving them in Adobe Photoshop. I was never more than an occasional photographer in the olden days of film before the advent of digital photography but I soon caught the bug for the digital variety very early on and have been addicted ever since. The freedom from film - and the expense - added to the bonus of never being caught out changing a film just when something you would have wanted to photograph passes by caused me to fall instantly in love with the digital variety. Another big plus is the freedom from the number of shots you can take without thinking perpetually of 24 or 36.

With my love for detail it was with some anticipation that I began to experiment with HDR. The "HD" stands for "High Definition" but I've no idea what the "R" represents. Perhaps you can tell me because I've never discovered it (nor have I really looked into finding out the answer either)! With genuine HDR I'm restricted to Photoshop, which doesn't offer the same refinements as the leader in this particular field - Photomatix. Basically HDR is the combination of 3 or more different exposure shots of the same scene, person, etc. The HDR program then aligns these shots and combines the 3 into one image without any detail being lost in shadows or highlights. Photomatic gives you a free 30 day trial but all the attempts during that trial are heavily watermarked and the full program is a little expensive. If the minimum of three different exposures puts you off then you can take one image into Photoshop and make 2 copies, each of which you can give a different exposure to from the original.

I recently came across a program called "TOPAZ ADJUST", produced by "". This is a more reasonable price and gives very favourable results using just ONE image. The two examples I give you below in this blog are from Topaz Adjust but please bear in mind that I have gone a little over the top because I don't know what difference you'll be able to see on these pages and, if it is good, then, believe me, you can go much further or far less than I have gone. Topaz Labs give a 30 day free trial but with their program there are NO limitations or watermarks at all.

Original image:
Topaz Adjust-ed Image:
I've never seen it mentioned but one thing I have found useful when using Topaz Adjust is to make a copy of the image you want to adjust before starting. When you get the adjusted version if there is ANY part of that image you don't like (i.e. the sky) then you can either put a mask on the new version and paint out the sky with black (thus revealing the original sky) or else just erase the unwanted portion. I have used this quite a bit.

Happy snapping.


Nicola said...

That's really clever - makes the part at the top of the photo look like a painting! Great picture BTW :)
Nic x

tangled stitch said...

Very clever and interesting!

Peter said...

Hi Nicola,
Thanks for your comment - glad you liked the photo. We live in Lincoln so if we're ever down Market Deeping way we'll call in and say hello.

~ Lora Hart Jewels ~ said...

Oh, this is just too cool! That photo is stunning. I don't think I need another obsession, but I'm glad you have one. I hope you post more pics. Send me your flickr if yo have one.

Pete said...

Hi Lora
Many thanks for your comment. Glad you like the photos but sorry you didn't feel like another obsession! No idea how to do Flickr but Ruth has promised to show me - and I'm here in the US with her now!